The Oakland A’s had a wonderful 2018, complete with an unexpected trip to the postseason. Along the way they made quite a few spectacular plays and authored some truly memorable moments.
Back in November, MLB Network together a list of the Top 100 plays of the year around the majors. Most of them were defensive highlights, but a handful were big homers or notable pitching achievements. You can see the whole list at the bottom of this post, in video form.
The A’s showed up five times on the list. Four of them were great plays by fielders, and the other was Sean Manaea’s no-hitter. Here are the five, followed by some brief thoughts at the end.
No. 79 - Chapman Tarp Catch
Amazingly, Matt Chapman only shows up one time on the whole list. That’s not because there was a one-per-player limit; some other guys made multiple appearances. The undisputed best defender in the whole sport only got one play in the Top 100.
Matt Chapman covered 91 feet -- all the space he had -- to make that sick catch over the tarp. pic.twitter.com/eMDfI7O2an— David Adler (@_dadler) August 15, 2018
It was a nice catch, but frankly it wouldn’t have been my pick for this list. He made at least two plays better than this one. It wasn’t even his only tarp catch, as he also did it back in March, plus there was another tarp catch on the list by Charlie Culberson of the Braves. And that’s all before considering that any such grab will always be compared with Josh Donaldson’s legendary version, at least by the Oakland faithful.
But still, it was a heck of an effort, and the important thing is that Chapman at least showed up somewhere in the Top 100 plays.
No. 70 - Laureano Spider Catch
Josh Reddick is Spiderman in Oakland A’s lore, but Ramon Laureano is giving him a run for his money with this grab. The Spidey pose is tough to see in real time, but you can scroll up to the perfect snapshot at the top of this article.
Spoiler: This isn’t the only time that Noodles will appear on this list.
No. 31 - Trayce Robs Homer
Hey, remember that time when Klay Thompson’s brother was on the A’s for two weeks? He didn’t stick in Oakland, but he did make one memorable play. In his return to his hometown of L.A. to face the Dodgers club that had recently cut him, he robbed former teammate Yasiel Puig of a dinger.
Trayce only played three games for the A’s before being cut yet again, and he went on to bat .116 for the White Sox in 130 plate appearances. But if nothing else, we’ll always have that awesome catch. The Top 100 list is full of a dozen or more homer thefts, and one of them was ours.
No. 8 - Manaea No-No
There were three no-hitters in the majors this year. Sean Manaea did it to the Red Sox, James Paxton did it to the Blue Jays, and four Dodgers put together a combined effort against the Padres. Manaea and Paxton both made the Top 10 for their solo jobs.
Not much to say about this one. If you prefer, you can watch the final out set to Titanic music.
No. 1 - Laureano Catch/Throw
This was clearly the best play by the A’s this year, and apparently no other team was able to beat it either. Laureano’s catch alone might have made the Top 100, and the throw on its own could have been Top 10. Together, they topped MLB Network’s entire list. Click here for a full rundown of the play, with more info and camera angles.
Fun fact: Edwin Jackson was pitching for both of the Laureano catches that made this list.
Five out of 100 plays means the A’s got more than an average share, so they were well represented even before considering they made the Top 10 twice. You could make an argument for a second Chapman play, or the Olson/Manaea barehand flip/catch, or perhaps the Khris Davis game-saving homer in Texas (fifth on the list in this post), but it’s all good. The A’s got theirs.
Unfortunately, they also showed up several times on the wrong side of a great play. They didn’t do anything wrong in these cases, they just got robbed by opponents.
- Adeiny Hechavarria flip play to rob Matt Olson
- Ehire Adrianza turns great GIDP on Matt Chapman
- Brandon Crawford catches a popup by Dustin Fowler
- Adeiny Hechavarria, again, spears liner by Marcus Semien (in Wild Card Game)
- Delino DeShields robs Stephen Piscotty just in front of wall
The BABIP gods giveth, and they taketh away.
Congrats to the A’s on these great plays, plus all the others that didn’t quite make the list! You can see the full Top 100 below, first in brief summary form (around two minutes) and then in full form (around an hour). If you like baseball, and I’m guessing that you do, you should watch the full version. It’s worth your time.
Farewell to 2018!